Apr 262012

While doing my earlier post on Luongo’s value I noticed that Luongo’s 5v5close zone start adjusted save percentage relative to the rest of the league is much more mediocre than his 5v5 save percentage.  I decide to look into this further and realized that this is in large part due to zone start effects, and not score effects.  This got me to look into zone start effects on a goalies save percentage further.

I previously wrote an article where I described a simple and straight forward for adjusting for zone starts.  Basically you can fully account for zone start effects by ignoring the first 10 seconds after an offensive or defensive zone face off so this is what I have been doing ever since.  I hadn’t yet considered the effect on a goalies save percentage though so here it is.  In the table below you will find all goalies who played 3000 5v5 minutes over the previous 3 seasons.  There are 46 such goalies.

Goalie 5v5 Sv% ZS Adj. Sv% Diff. 10Sec Sv% 10Sec SA%
MICHAL NEUVIRTH 91.8% 90.5% 1.4% 96.0% 24.6%
JIMMY HOWARD 92.3% 90.6% 1.7% 98.2% 22.0%
ROBERTO LUONGO 93.0% 91.5% 1.5% 98.4% 21.6%
TIM THOMAS 93.1% 92.0% 1.1% 97.4% 21.0%
HENRIK LUNDQVIST 93.1% 92.0% 1.1% 97.4% 20.5%
TUUKKA RASK 93.0% 91.8% 1.2% 97.9% 20.3%
COREY CRAWFORD 92.2% 90.7% 1.4% 97.9% 20.1%
TOMAS VOKOUN 92.9% 91.7% 1.2% 97.7% 19.7%
EVGENI NABOKOV 92.6% 91.4% 1.2% 97.4% 19.5%
DWAYNE ROLOSON 91.4% 90.0% 1.4% 97.3% 19.1%
BRIAN BOUCHER 91.8% 90.4% 1.4% 97.9% 18.8%
SCOTT CLEMMENSEN 92.1% 90.7% 1.3% 97.9% 18.5%
JOSE THEODORE 92.6% 91.6% 1.0% 97.0% 18.4%
SERGEI BOBROVSKY 92.3% 91.0% 1.3% 97.8% 18.4%
SEMYON VARLAMOV 92.9% 91.9% 1.0% 97.4% 18.2%
JAMES REIMER 92.7% 91.7% 0.9% 96.9% 17.9%
RAY EMERY 91.8% 90.9% 0.9% 96.1% 17.8%
JOHAN HEDBERG 92.1% 91.1% 0.9% 96.5% 17.6%
MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF 92.5% 91.5% 1.0% 97.4% 17.5%
CRAIG ANDERSON 92.3% 91.2% 1.0% 97.2% 17.1%
JEAN-SEBASTIEN GIGUERE 91.7% 91.1% 0.6% 94.8% 17.0%
DEVAN DUBNYK 92.1% 91.0% 1.1% 97.4% 16.7%
PETER BUDAJ 92.1% 91.1% 0.9% 96.7% 16.6%
ANTTI NIEMI 92.7% 91.7% 1.0% 98.1% 16.1%
MARTY TURCO 91.8% 90.7% 1.1% 97.3% 16.0%
MARTIN BRODEUR 91.7% 90.5% 1.1% 97.7% 15.8%
JONATHAN QUICK 92.6% 91.9% 0.6% 96.1% 15.2%
BRIAN ELLIOTT 91.2% 90.3% 0.9% 96.2% 15.2%
CAREY PRICE 92.5% 91.9% 0.5% 95.6% 14.8%
JONAS GUSTAVSSON 90.9% 89.8% 1.1% 97.3% 14.7%
DAN ELLIS 91.3% 90.5% 0.8% 96.1% 14.3%
KARI LEHTONEN 92.6% 92.2% 0.5% 95.4% 14.2%
CAM WARD 92.6% 91.9% 0.7% 97.0% 13.5%
PEKKA RINNE 93.0% 92.5% 0.5% 96.1% 13.5%
CHRIS MASON 91.0% 90.7% 0.4% 93.3% 13.4%
MARC-ANDRE FLEURY 91.6% 90.9% 0.7% 96.4% 13.4%
ILYA BRYZGALOV 92.8% 92.3% 0.5% 96.2% 13.3%
NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN 91.0% 90.0% 1.0% 97.7% 13.3%
RYAN MILLER 92.7% 92.2% 0.5% 96.3% 13.2%
NIKLAS BACKSTROM 92.6% 92.2% 0.4% 95.2% 12.9%
ONDREJ PAVELEC 92.1% 91.5% 0.6% 96.0% 12.8%
STEVE MASON 91.2% 90.5% 0.8% 96.5% 12.6%
JONAS HILLER 92.6% 91.9% 0.7% 97.3% 12.5%
MIKE SMITH 92.4% 91.9% 0.6% 96.4% 12.4%
JAROSLAV HALAK 92.9% 92.4% 0.5% 96.8% 11.8%
MATHIEU GARON 91.0% 90.5% 0.5% 95.2% 11.4%
Average 92.3% 91.4% 0.9% 96.9% 16.2%

Included in the table are 5v5 save percentage, 5v5 zone start adjusted save percentage, the difference between 5v5 save percentage and zone start adjusted save percentage, the goalies save percentage on shots within 10 seconds of an offensive/defensive zone face off, and the percentage of shots that the goalie faced that were within 10 seconds of an offensive/defensive zone face off.

As you can see, the average within 10 seconds of a face off save percentage is significantly higher than the average face off adjusted save percentage (97.9% vs 91.4%) and the variation of the percentage of shots faced within 10 seconds if a face off across goalies is very significant (average 16.2%, low of 11.4%, high of 24.6%).  Furthermore, this average seems to be team driven (i.e. Rask/Thomas have quite similar/high percentages, S. Mason/Garon, Pavelec/C. Mason quite low).  This can introduce a significant bias into a goalies save percentage.  If we calculate an expected save percentage based on the number of ‘within 10 second’ and ‘during normal play’ shots and the average save percentages for those situations, the expected save percentage of Neuvirth would be 92.7% while the expected save percentage of Mathieu Garon would be 92.0%.  Now that is just a 0.7% difference which you may not think is huge, but the lowest 5v5 save percentage is 90.9% and the highest is 93.1% for a range of 2.3%.  That means a 0.7% variation due to within 10 seconds of a face off vs normal play could account for 30% of all variation in goaltender save percentage.  I am too lazy to look into it, but I wonder if variation in number of power play shots faced has as much impact on overall save percentage.  I am certain that this is a far more significant factor than score effects.

Thus, I think it is extremely important to factor out shots faced immediately after a face off when evaluating goaltender performance (and any players performance for that matter).  Furthermore, I fully stand by my previous Luongo post where I suggest he is a mere middle of the pack goalie.


Apr 262012

One of the most significant stories of the first round of the playoffs is the early departure of the Vancouver Canucks and the resulting question mark surrounding Roberto Luongo’s future with the Canucks.  With young super prospect Cory Schneider out playing Luongo for arguably the second straight playoff it puts Luongo’s future with the Canucks in doubt.  As of now it seems apparent that Luongo is looking for a new start and the Canucks organization is probably looking more to Schneider than Luongo as their goalie of the future.  There is a lot of speculation about which teams might be interested in Luongo (Tampa, Toronto, Chicago, San Jose, New Jersey are some of the suggested locations) but to me the greater question is, should anyone even be interested in Luongo?

The easiest method to evaluate goalies is their save percentage but because of situational and score effect differences maybe the best save percentage to use is 5v5 close zone start adjusted save percentage.  The following table shows Luongo’s 5v5 close zone start adjusted save percentage over the past 5 seasons along with his rank among goalies who have played at least 1000 minutes of ice time.  I have also included his save percentage and rank among goalies with 3000 minutes over the past 3 years combined.

Year Sv% Rank
2007-08 91.10 17/27
2008-09 92.25 9/26
2009-10 91.57 15/30
2010-11 91.43 17/28
2011-12 91.36 17/31
2009-12 (3yr) 91.45 17/25

As you can see, Luongo is basically a middle of the road goalie and has been consistently a middle of the road goalie for the past 5 years.  Now, for about 10-15 teams, that would be an improvement on their current goaltending situation and for a few teams a significant improvement, but the question becomes, at what cost?  As I am sure everyone reading this is well aware, Luongo has a monster contract.  He is 33 years old and has 10 more years on his contract with a cap hit of $5.333M each year and his actual salary is $6.714M for the next 6 seasons before it begins to tail off.  That is a lot of money and term to commit to an aging (though no signs of declining performance yet) middle of the road goalie who will not likely live up to expectations the near term and will certainly not live up to expectations over the long term.

How this plays out is anyone’s guess.  In my mind, Luongo’s contract is not probably worth trading for, even if Luongo presents a significant improvement over a teams current goaltending situation.  One could argue that acquiring Luongo could put the Leafs and Lightning in a playoff spot, but the long term risk is huge and the ability for Luongo to consistently take a team deep into the playoffs has to be questioned, even in the next few years.  That said, I am sure there will be general managers out there that believe that Luongo is top tier goalie because his actual overall save percentage is pretty good and I am not sure how many of them will adjust for situational and score effects.  The question is, will that even be enough for them to overlook his contract.  I don’t think it will be easy for the Canucks to trade Luongo but I suspect they will find someone will take a chance on him.

(Update:  Read this for why adjusting for zone start is important and how I do the adjustment)

Apr 192012

Prior to the season Gabe Desjardins and I had a conversation over at MC79hockey.com where I predicted several players would combine for a 5v5 on-ice shooting percentage above 10.0% while league average is just shy of 8.0%.  I documented this in a post prior to the season.  In short, I predicted the following:

  • Crosby, Gaborik, Ryan, St. Louis, H. Sedin, Toews, Heatley, Tanguay, Datsyuk, and Nathan Horton will have a combined on-ice shooting percentage above 10.0%
  • Only two of those 10 players will have an on-ice shooting percentage below 9.5%

So, how did my prediction fair?  The following table tells all.

Player GF SF SH%
SIDNEY CROSBY 31 198 15.66%
MARTIN ST._LOUIS 74 601 12.31%
ALEX TANGUAY 43 371 11.59%
MARIAN GABORIK 57 582 9.79%
JONATHAN TOEWS 51 525 9.71%
NATHAN HORTON 34 359 9.47%
HENRIK SEDIN 62 655 9.47%
BOBBY RYAN 52 552 9.42%
PAVEL DATSYUK 50 573 8.73%
DANY HEATLEY 42 611 6.87%
Totals 496 5027 9.87%

Well, technically neither of my predictions came true.  Only 5 players had on-ice shooting percentages above 9.5% and as a group they did not maintain a shooting percentage above 10.0%.  That said, my prediction wasn’t all that far off.  8 of the 10 players had an on-ice shooting percentage above 9.42% and as a group they had an on-ice shooting percentage of 9.87%.  If Crosby was healthy for most of the season or the Minnesota Wild didn’t suck so bad the group would have reached the 10.0% mark.  So, when all is said and done, while technically my predictions didn’t come perfectly true, the intent of the prediction did.  Shooting percentage is a talent, is maintainable, and can be used as a predictor of future performance.

I now have 5 years of on-ice data on stats.hockeyanalysis.com so I thought I would take a look at how sustainable shooting percentage is using that data.  To do this I took all forwards with 350 minutes of 5v5 zone start adjusted ice time in each of the past 5 years and took the first 3 years of the data (2007-08 through 2009-10) to predict the final 2 years of data (2010-11 and 2011-12).  This means we used at least 1050 minutes of data over 3 seasons to predict at least 700 minutes of data over 2 seasons.  The following chart shows the results for on-ice shooting percentage.

Clearly there is some persistence in on-ice shooting percentage.  How does this compare to something like fenwick for rates (using FF20 – Fenwick For per 20 minutes).

Ok, so FF20 seems to be more persistent, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that shooting percentage is persistent and a reasonable predictor of future shooting percentage.  (FYI, the guy out on his own in the upper left is Kyle Wellwood)

The real question is, are either of them any good at predicting future goal scoring rates (GF20 – goals for per 20 minutes) because really, goals are ultimately what matters in hockey.

Ok, so both on-ice shooting percentage and on-ice fenwick for rates are somewhat reasonable predictors of future on-ice goal for rates with a slight advantage to on-ice shooting percentage (sorry, just had to point that out).  This is not inconsistent with what I  found a year ago when I used 4 years of data to calculate 2 year vs 2 year correlations.

Of course, I would never suggest we use shooting percentage as a player evaluation tool, just as I don’t suggest we use fenwick as a player evaluation tool.  Both are sustainable, both can be used as predictors of future success, and both are true player skills, but the best predictor of future goal scoring is past goal scoring, as evidenced by the following chart.

That is pretty clear evidence that goal rates are the best predictor of future goal rates and thus, in my opinion anyway, the best player evaluation tool.  Yes, there are still sample size issues with using goal rates for less than a full seasons worth of data, but for all those players where we have multiple seasons worth of data (or at least one full season with >~750 minutes of ice time) for, using anything other than goals as your player evaluation tool will potentially lead to less reliable and less accurate player evaluations.

As for the defensive side of the game, I have not found a single reasonably good predictor of future goals against rates, regardless of whether I look at corsi, fenwick, goals, shooting percentage or anything else.  This isn’t to suggest that players can’t influence defense, because I believe they can, but rather that there are too many other factors that I haven’t figured out how to isolate and remove from the equation.  Most important is the goalie and I feel the most difficult question to answer in hockey statistics is how to separate the goalie from the defenders. Plus, I believe there are far fewer players that truly focus on defense and thus goals against is largely driven by the opposition.

Note:  I won’t make any promises but my intention is to make this my last post on the subject of sustainability of on-ice shooting percentage and the benefit of using a goal based player analysis over a corsi/fenwick based analysis.  For all those who still fail to realize goals matter more than shots or shot attempts there is nothing more I can say.  All the evidence is above or in numerous other posts here at hockeyanalysis.com.  On-ice shooting percentage is a true player talent that is both sustainable and a viable predictor of future performance at least on par with fenwick rates.  If you choose to ignore reality from this point forward, it is at your own peril.


Apr 172012

Last week I took a look at the Leafs forwards, today I’ll take a look at their defense and goaltending.  As with the forwards, I’ll evaluate the defensemen using their 5v5 zone start adjusted HARO+, HARD+ and HART+ ratings but with goalies I will evaluate them using their 5v5 zone start adjusted HARD+ rating and save percentage.  I have included the past 5 individual seasons as well as the most recent 3 year rating and 5 year rating.  Personally, I like to use 3 year ratings as the best guide for player value as it gives a large sample size but not too large that other factors come into play for most players (i.e. aging and natural career progression).

Dion Phaneuf

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.975 1.083 1.023 1.355 1.125 0.996 0.955
HARD+ 0.866 1.069 0.941 0.741 0.972 0.969 0.928
HART+ 0.920 1.076 0.982 1.048 1.049 0.983 0.942

Phaneuf had a bit of an off year this year, particularly in the second half.  Both his offensive HARO+ and defensive HARD+ ratings are down from previous seasons.  Generally speaking over the years Phaneuf has been a good offensive player and more of an average defensive player over the several years.  He does seem to contribute quite well on the powerplay so if I had to define his role, he’d be an ideal #2/#3 defenseman on a good team who is relied upon heavily on the powerplay.  It is my opinion, he is not a top #1 defenseman and most good teams in the NHL have at least one defenseman better than Phaneuf, often significantly better.  Unfortunately this means he is significantly over paid at $6.5M/yr and his actual worth is probably more in the $5M/yr range.

John-Michael Liles

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.884 1.035 1.011 0.909 1.145 0.957 0.848
HARD+ 0.848 0.860 1.090 0.847 0.952 0.909 0.916
HART+ 0.866 0.948 1.051 0.878 1.049 0.933 0.882

Liles offensive numbers really took a dip this year as he never really got his game back on track after returning from injury.  Before he suffered  his concussion he had 21 points in 34 games but after his return he had just 6 points in 32 games.  Taking that into account, Liles is an above average offensive player but an average to below average defensive player.  He is good on the powerplay but unlike Phaneuf not quite as reliable in defensive situations.  Liles is probably a #3/#4/#5 defenseman depending on the makeup of the team.

Luke Schenn

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.165 1.083 1.204 0.924 1.117 1.121 0.940
HARD+ 0.713 0.878 0.912 0.792 0.808 0.844 0.837
HART+ 0.939 0.981 1.058 0.858 0.963 0.982 0.888

I have been extremely critical of Schenn’s defensive game over the years, but surprisingly he has been very solid offensively in 5v5 situations.  If you compare Schenn’s 5v5 point totals to Phaneuf’s and adjust for ice time they are awfully close.  Unfortunately Schenn’s defensive game is dreadful and it took a step back this season.  Of the 161 defensemen with 2000 5v5 zone start adjusted minutes over the past 3 seasons, Schenn ranks 151st.  Schenn is a perfect example of a young defenseman who was rushed to the NHL and asked to play under a coach that isn’t known for defensive structure and his development suffered.  I really hope that Randy Carlyle who is much more of a defensive structured coach than Ron Wilson can turn Schenn’s defensive game around because if he can Schenn could provide the Leafs with a lot of value as a #3/#4 defenseman for many years to come.  If Schenn can’t improve his defensive game he offers very value going forward.

Carl Gunnarsson

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.967 1.004 1.221 1.007
HARD+ 0.989 0.856 0.969 0.952
HART+ 0.978 0.93 1.095 0.980

Gunnarsson is one of those defensemen who quietly goes about his business and gets the job done.  He is a perfect low maintenance top 4 defenseman who can generate offense when needed but can also be used in more shutdown situations when needed as well.  He and Phaneuf played quite well together for much of the season in both offensive and defensive roles.

Mike Komisarek

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.900 0.965 0.800 1.069 1.109 0.876 0.850
HARD+ 0.676 0.743 1.022 0.945 0.923 0.788 0.875
HART+ 0.788 0.854 0.911 1.007 1.016 0.832 0.862

A lot has been written about the fall off of Mike Komisarek’s game so there isn’t a whole lot more to add.  His defensive numbers over the past couple seasons have been dreadful.  Unlike Schenn, I am not even sure if we can hope he will turn his game around under a more defensive structured coach.

Cody Franson

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.074 1.057 1.299 1.094
HARD+ 0.917 1.391 1.625 1.264
HART+ 0.996 1.224 1.462 1.179

It was a bit of an unfortunate season for Cody Franson as he went from a regular role in Nashville to bouncing in and out of the lineup with the Leafs.  In Nashville he was paired mostly with more defensive minded and physical Shane O’Brien and his defensive numbers were extremely good, albeit against somewhat weak competition.  When he came to Toronto I wanted to see what he could do if given a more significant role, particularly defensive role feeling he had been typecast as an offensive specialist.  Unfortunately he was never given that opportunity as when he was in the line up he was paired with Liles or Gardiner.  It should be noted though, that he did make them both better defensively.  When Liles was not with Franson his GA20 was 1.116 but with Franson it was 0.639.  When Gardiner was not with Franson his GA20 was 1.056, when with Franson it was 0.782.    His .917 HARD+ was second best on the Leafs (to Gunnarsson) and I think he deserves to considered an option in more defensive situations.

Jake Gardiner

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.277
HARD+ 0.809
HART+ 1.043

Jake Gardiner had an outstanding rookie season impressing everyone with his offensive skills anchored by strong skating and puck handling abilities.  As with most rookies his defensive game still needs growth, but if he continues to develop his offensive game he has the potential to be an elite offensive defenseman.  On the season he had 30 points in 75 games but had 21 of those 30 points in the 40 games after January.  Although it is just half a season, those are impressive point totals for a rookie defenseman.  His future is extremely promising as an offensive defenseman.

On the whole, the Leafs have a pretty good set of defensemen and you can argue that Phaneuf, Gunnarsson, Liles, Gardiner, and Franson can all be top 4 defensemen on good teams and Schenn has that potential if he can improve the defensive side of his game.  Unfortunately as a group the mix is all wrong.  There is no true #1 defenseman, there is no true defensive shut down pairing, and there are far too many one-dimensional offensive defenseman and a number of them are over paid for their contribution.  There is a lot of youth, but not a lot of veteran leadership (or coaching) to provide defensive guidance to these young players.  Furthermore Schenn was needlessly rushed to the NHL and not given proper instruction and I feel Franson has been unfairly typecast as a uni-dimensional player and thus have not gotten optimal return for his talents.  They need to jettison the contract of Komisarek one way or another (trade unlikely so buyout a possibility).  If they can’t develop Schenn into a shut down defenseman, they need to ship him out and find someone who can fill that role.  It would be nice if they could get better value out of the $6.5M they are paying Phaneuf but I don’t know how they accomplish that.  Related to Phaneuf, they really do need an elite #1 defenseman but with their salary cap restraints I don’t see how you do that this off season though I think there is reason to hope/believe that maybe Gardiner can (may) develop into that role (or at least into a poor mans Scott Niedermayer or Brian Rafalski type) so maybe it is worth waiting and seeing.

Now on to the goaltending.

Jonas Gustavsson

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARD+ 0.808 0.803 0.903 0.850
Save% 89.2 89.7 90.4 89.8

Gustavsson wasn’t very good as a rookie, and has gotten worse since.  At this point there is very little reason to believe he will ever be a reliable starter in the NHL and you even have to question whether he can be a reliable backup except behind elite starters where he is only relied on to play in 20 games.  He won’t be back with the Leafs.

James Reimer

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARD+ 0.898 1.035 0.991
Save% 90.6 92.7 91.7

It was a bad season for Reimer, getting injured early and maybe never really fully getting back on track.  I don’t think this season is enough reason to give up hope on him becoming a quality starting NHL goalie but I am a long way from suggesting he is the “Real Deal” as Brian Burke did in his year end press conference.

The Leafs need to add a quality experienced and reliable veteran goalie to support Reimer in his development.  It’s unfortunate they didn’t figure this out last season because they could have signed a guy like Jose Theodore who had a very good season in Florida and would have been a perfect fit for the Leafs.  This off season Vokoun could be an option but he is getting up there in age and has shown signs of slowing down the past couple seasons.  Josh Harding is a little younger and has been a quality backup for several years in Minnesota but has not proven he can handle starters duties (never had more than 34 games played) if needed so there is a level of risk with him.  Otherwise you are looking at second tier starters aged 35 and up or career backups, none of which are very appealing to me so they may have to go the trade route but I have no clue who might be available.



Head shots and player safety…

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Head shots and player safety…
Apr 152012

We are less than a week into the playoffs and it seems the main story line of the playoffs so far has been head shots and general player safety whether it was the Shea Weber non-suspension or the number of dangerous hits and other ‘goonery’ that took place last night and it probably all started with the hit and concussion suffered by Daniel Sedin a couple weeks ago.

For me, I find the whole player safety debate interesting because it seems the most silent group in the debate is the players.  There is a lot of media outrage against head hits and other dangerous events and even some fan outrage (though less significant than the media portrays) but player outrage doesn’t seem to exist.  The players are the ones at risk here, not the media or the fans, and it is my opinion that until the players feel outraged by the lack of player safety should I really care?

Many players are highly intelligent with college or university degrees (or intelligent without degrees, you don’t need a degree to be intelligent).  Players are paid a lot of money, they have a players union and can hire highly intelligent agents and union representatives to fight for their rights.  As of yet I haven’t seen any indication from the players that player safety is nearly as important a concern for them as it is for much of the media.  In the next couple months the players and the owners will begin negotiations of a new collective bargaining agreement.  One of the main reasons why unions formed was to demand better work place safety in factories.  If the players don’t take this new CBA negotiation opportunity to raise player safety concerns why should I as a fan care one iota about player safety.  I am willing to be proven wrong, but I suspect money and player freedom (free agency) will remain the #1 issue for players and player safety will hardly get discussed.

Note: I want to mention that this only applies to professional hockey dealing with adults, often very well paid adults.  Kids hockey and junior hockey players need to be protected by external groups because they are less fit to do so themselves.


Apr 122012

With the Maple Leafs season having ended early once again a it is time to take an honest and unbiased look at what the team has and what the team needs to get to improve.  This will be a multi-post endeavour that will start with this post which will be a statistical evaluation of the Leafs forwards.  Included in each players evaluation is a table of their 5v5 zone start adjusted HARO+, HARD+ and HART+ ratings over the past 5 seasons (where available) as well as 3 and 5 year ratings.  These ratings provide an unbiased zone start, quality of teammate and quality of competition adjusted view of the player.

Joffrey Lupul

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.538 1.124 1.401 1.132 1.330 1.341 1.116
HARD+ 0.633 0.800 0.895 0.853 0.822 0.730 0.790
HART+ 1.085 0.962 1.148 0.993 1.076 1.036 0.953

I have heard a number of people suggest that we should trade Joffrey Lupul because his value is as high as it has ever been.  Well, that may be the case but if you were the Ottawa Senators would you trade Erik Karlsson because his value is as high as it ever has been?  No.  Joffrey Lupul’s value may be as high as it ever has been, or ever will, but he is a really really good player and has been a really really good player for a number of years.  I should qualify that a bit and say offensive player because defensively he hasn’t ever been great but neither are a lot of the top offensive players in the league.  I think it can be argued that Lupul is the Leafs best offensive forward who makes the players around him better (See my Lupul’s always been this good article).  Kessel’s numbers drop off significantly when Lupul hasn’t been on the ice with him.  Over the past 2 seasons Kessel’s GF20 has been 1.281 when on the ice with Lupul and 0.641 when not on the ice with Lupul.  Yeah, we shouldn’t be talking about trading Lupul, we should be talking about signing Lupul to a long term contract extension.

Phil Kessel

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.301 0.994 1.201 1.340 1.087 1.145 1.019
HARD+ 0.717 0.780 0.908 1.264 0.775 0.799 0.866
HART+ 1.009 0.887 1.054 1.302 0.931 0.972 0.942

Phil Kessel gets a lot of accolades for his individual goal scoring numbers and deservedly so, very few players put together 30 goal seasons for four straight years.  But his overall contribution to the team, while still quite good, doesn’t match that of Joffrey Lupul.  Lupul’s overall offensive contribution to the team is better and he does a better job of making the players around him better.  Furthermore, it seems Lupul’s defensive numbers are better too.  Now I don’t want to suggest that Kessel is a bad player, he is not, but he isn’t the #1 reason why the first line did so well this season.  Lupul is.

Tyler Bozak

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.216 0.793 1.254 1.022
HARD+ 0.722 0.746 0.882 0.772
HART+ 0.969 0.770 1.068 0.897

There are a lot of differing opinions on Tyler Bozak.  Whenever I suggest the Leafs should trade him while his value is high and that he is not and will not ever be a first line center I often get a few people suggesting that he is still young and improving and his point totals are on an upward trend (27 points to 32 to 47 this past season).  While all is true and he may very well be a good offensive player he is dreadful defensively and that is the problem with Bozak.  With neither Kessel or Lupul being quality defensive players the Leafs need a center who can bring a defensive presence to that line.  Kessel and Lupul can create a lot of offense on their own so offensive ability is almost secondary.  The best thing for that line would to be to find a solid offensive forward with a strong defensive awareness and hopefully with a bit of size.  Bozak is not that guy.  He is also not as good as Mikhail Grabovski who has the second line center job locked up long term and without the defensive ability he can’t fit in on the third line either as it seems certain Carlyle will want that to be a checking line.  Bozak is a decent player, but there isn’t an opening on the Leafs roster for a player with his abilities and as such he should be used as trade bait to find a player who can fill the holes in the Leafs lineup better than he can.

Mikhail Grabovski

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.287 1.390 1.278 0.987 1.265 1.309 1.074
HARD+ 0.938 1.015 1.048 0.873 0.605 1.014 0.951
HART+ 1.113 1.202 1.163 0.930 0.935 1.161 1.012

One can easily argue that Grabovski is the Leafs best all-round forward.  He has had three straight very good seasons both offensively and defensively (though there was a bit of a drop off on the defensive side this year, that is probably – hopefully – an anomaly).  He is the perfect second line center.

Clarke MacArthur

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.086 1.251 1.014 0.896 1.194 1.110 0.949
HARD+ 1.041 0.971 0.810 0.874 0.907 0.946 0.943
HART+ 1.064 1.111 0.912 0.885 1.051 1.028 0.946

I have always had mixed opinions on Clarke MacArthur and I flip back and forth on whether we should keep him or whether we should use him as trade bait.  At this moment in time I am in the keep him camp as it seems he has enough offensive ability to easily be a second line winger and his defensive numbers have improved nicely over the past couple seasons (and you can’t say that about many Leaf players) .  So for now I am in the keep him camp.

Nikolai Kulemin

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.180 1.343 0.987 1.168 1.161 1.021
HARD+ 1.024 0.999 1.171 0.735 1.085 0.989
HART+ 1.102 1.171 1.079 0.951 1.123 1.005

Kulemin’s individual offensive numbers dropped off the cliff this season when compared to last season, but in his four seasons in the NHL he has had 31, 36, 57 and 28 points so last season is probably more the anomaly than this season has been.  I like Kulemin and he plays a good 2-way game, but I just wonder if he is better suited to a 3rd line role.  It’s not so much that I don’t think he can be a good second line player, but rather that I think you could build a really nice checking line around him that can be depended on to shut down the opposing teams tip lines, but who can also score some goals too. that can also score some goals.  If you can build a quality checking line that as a line is capable of scoring 40-50 goals you can gain you a huge advantage over a lot of teams and if you can add a true 50+ point winger to Grabovski and MacArthur you improve the second line offensively as well.  Kulemin is an RFA and will probably want around $3M/year which is probably reasonable.  After a bit of an off year statistically he has lost some bargaining power so if Burke played hard he might be able to get him for $2.5M per year but for the sake of $500K/year make him happy with a 3 year $9M contract.

Tim Connolly

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.914 1.065 1.264 1.543 1.287 1.063 1.026
HARD+ 0.761 0.870 1.097 1.006 0.942 0.900 0.934
HART+ 0.838 0.968 1.180 1.274 1.115 0.981 0.980

The three seasons from 2007-08 to 2009-10 were very good seasons for Connolly, both offensively and defensively.  When the Leafs signed Connolly last summer I had hoped that he could return to that form after a slip in 2010-11 but unfortunately he regressed even further.  In some respects it may not be all Connolly’s fault as we has bounced around a lot, from center to wing, from third line to first line, and even occasionally on the second line.  I am not sure how fair it is to evaluate a player under those circumstances but we kind of have to.  I just wish we could have seen Connolly play a long stretch of games between Kessel and Lupul to see if he could be a nice 60 point center with some defensive awareness.  Unfortunately we didn’t get that chance so I think if Burke can move his contract he needs to do that and let another team give him top six duty.

David Steckel

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.683 0.583 0.979 0.711 0.766 0.730 0.625
HARD+ 0.860 1.097 1.347 1.104 1.063 1.077 1.086
HART+ 0.772 0.840 1.163 0.908 0.915 0.903 0.856

Despite the drop off in his defensive numbers, I kind of like the job that Steckel did this year on the third and fourth lines.  He was great on face offs and played a quality checking line center role and his defensive numbers took a hit when he played briefly with Kessel and Lupul (1.658 GA20 in 48 minutes with Kessel vs 0.843 in 617 minutes apart from Kessel).  Once Randy Carlyle took over as coach Steckel saw his minutes increase significantly as he was bumped up into full time 3rd line center duty matching up against some of the oppositions top players.  He doesn’t have the offensive ability if you are looking to build a 3rd line that can also score, but as a defensive checking center I am happy with him in that role.

Matt Lombardi

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.900 1.293 1.410 0.700 1.097 0.920
HARD+ 0.689 0.898 0.896 0.979 0.804 0.877
HART+ 0.794 1.096 1.153 0.840 0.950 0.898

Lombardi, like Connolly, got bounced around a fair bit but he really didn’t show much in any role he was given.  His best years were when he was given a job as an offensive center on the top 2 lines but like Bozak and Connolly he won’t find that role with the Leafs.  Unfortunately like Connolly his contract may make him difficult to move but if you can you gotta let him go.

Colby Armstrong

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.449 1.274 1.118 1.214 1.160 1.078 0.980
HARD+ 0.784 0.823 0.948 1.016 0.812 0.877 0.926
HART+ 0.616 1.048 1.033 1.115 0.986 0.978 0.953

If Armstrong could ever get healthy and stay healthy he might actually be a useful player.  He has shown some offensive ability in the past and he can be a physical energy player which is something the Leafs desperately need.  Unfortunately his health is a big if.  I am not against having him on the Leafs next season but I would lump him with Lombardi and Connolly.  If you can move him, you do.  The Leafs really need to shed at least 2 of those contracts in order to free up cap space to fill the holes elsewhere.

Mike Brown

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.488 0.900 0.712 0.421 0.269 0.682 0.521
HARD+ 0.878 1.202 1.169 0.896 0.975 1.094 1.035
HART+ 0.683 1.051 0.941 0.659 0.622 0.888 0.778

Mike Brown has very little offensive ability, but he is defensively aware and is a guy who will throw his body around and stand up for his teammates.  He wasn’t a Ron Wilson type of player but I think you might see his role expanded a little under Randy Carlyle.  I am perfectly happy seeing him on the fourth line again next year.

Joey Crabb

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.063 1.139 1.058 1.046
HARD+ 0.977 0.969 0.808 0.995
HART+ 1.020 1.054 0.933 1.020

Joey Crabb deserves a lot of credit for really earning himself a roster spot.  He is a hard worker who will chip in offensively and seems to be at least reasonably defensively aware and perfectly capable of playing on almost any line as an injury fill in as needed.  I am not sure he is the kind of guy I’d write in as the permanent second line winger or permanent third line winger, but rather I’d continue to use him as he has been used the past couple seasons – the ideal 13th forward that actually plays a lot as he is the primary injury fill in regardless of which line the injured forward plays on though one could see him as a third line regular too.  He is a UFA but can probably be easily re-signed.

Nazem Kadri

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.093 0.741 0.836
HARD+ 1.595 1.436 1.469
HART+ 1.344 1.088 1.152

It sometimes irks me how Kadri gets criticized by Leaf management for not playing a complete game when a) so many other players on the roster do not seem to be expected to play to that same standard and b) statistically speaking he doesn’t appear to be a liability defensively.  It is time for the Leafs to give Kadri a full time role in the NHL and see what he can do.  Second line duy

Matt Frattin

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 1.001
HARD+ 1.020
HART+ 1.011

Frattin had a good rookie season as a defensively aware player who can chip in offensively from time to time.  I think he deserves full time 3rd line duty next year.

Jay Rosehill

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.159 0.628 0.899 0.463
HARD+ 1.318 0.569 0.653 0.832
HART+ 0.739 0.598 0.776 0.647

Yeah, he’s not good.  I’ll give him credit for his willingness to drop the gloves when asked to, but he is really a second rate fighter who can’t really get the job done as a player.

Colton Orr

2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2009-12 (3yr) 2007-12 (5yr)
HARO+ 0.507 0.749 0.405 0.225 0.688 0.398
HARD+ 1.375 1.129 0.815 1.018 1.234 1.054
HART+ 0.941 0.939 0.610 0.622 0.961 0.726

Colton Orr actually seems like he might not be a huge defensive liability, at least if you play him in a fourth line role under protected minutes.  We’ve probably seen the end of Orr on the Leafs but you never know.  I am pretty sure Burke will be looking for a heavy weight who can contribute to add to the roster, but failing that maybe Orr is the guy.  Wouldn’t shock me.

Where does that leave us?

So, with the player evaluations complete, where does that leave us as far as a roster goes.  Well, if I had my choice I would like to see the following lines next season:

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Lupul  ???? Kessel
MacArthur Grabovski Kadri
Kulemin  ???? Frattin
Brown Steckel Crabb

Hopefully one way or another are Connolly, Lombardi, and Armstrong are gone but that may be a tall order.  I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them gets bought out (Lombardi most likely) and if healthy maybe Armstrong can find a role on the team but realistically at least 2 of those contracts need to be shed if the Leafs are going to have the cap space to fill the holes at #1C and #3C.

For the #1 center role I would be looking for at least an established 60 point 2-way center, ideally with good speed and at least a little size and strength.  The #1 center hole is probably most likely to be addressed via trade as I don’t see that type of player in the free agent pool.  Travis Zajac has had a tough year with injuries but if the Leafs could somehow pry him away from the Devils I’d be more than happy with him in the #1C role.  He isn’t a big time offensive player, but has played a top line role with the Devils and knows how to play a defensively aware game and with the emergence of Adam Henrique and financial woes of Devils ownership they may be looking for a cheaper option than Zajac provides.  There is also the possibility of this years draft pick at some point becoming the #1C, but I think realistically we are at least a year or two away from that.

The #3C I would be looking for a solid defensive center with good speed and decent size and if he can contribute 30+ or so points that would be ideal.  With Kulemin and Frattin on the wings, both with good size and speed and some offensive ability and solid defensive awareness, you could have a perfect third line to match up against opposing top lines.  Jarrett Stoll is a UFA who might fit the bill, as might Paul Gaustad (he’d definitely add the size Burke is looking for).  Samuel Pahlsson  is also also a UFA and Burke and Carlyle are both very familiar with him, but at age 34 might be a bit older than they are looking for.

Notice that I have filled in all of the winger positions.  I am not against making a trade to improve at the wing positions by adding more size (most likely McArthur’s) but I’d only do so after filling in the holes at #1C and #3C. Furthermore, I really hope it is not Rick Nash as I think it will cost too much to acquire him I don’t believe he is as good as many think he is and his contract is long and very large.

Joe Colborne and Carter Ashton are two more young players who may need more development time but may challenge for a job or at least be injury fill-in candidates.  I didn’t see much from Ashton’s 15 games late in the season to tell me that he is ready for a regular job in the NHL and Colborne has had an up and down season with the Marlies.

Well, that is the Leaf forwards for you.  In my next post I’ll take a look at the defense and goaltending.


Apr 102012

Just listened to the Brian Burke press conference and I have to say it was a whole lot of nothing.  I’ll give Burke this summer to make some changes but based on that press conference I don’t have a lot of confidence in his assessment of the team.

He talked a lot about how everything was fine with the club on February 6th before things unexpectedly fell apart.  Well, in reality it wasn’t that unexpected.  They had a good record from January 1st through February 6th but in that stretch only 6 of their 15 games were against teams that ended up in the playoffs.  Their next 17 games consisted of 12 against playoff teams and 5 against non playoff teams.  It isn’t a shock that they had a good January and a poor February/March.  It the start of March I wrote about the Leafs dreadful record against good teams.  It isn’t rocket science and it bothers me that Burke is willing to use the Leafs ability to beat bad teams in January as a reason for optimism.  On December 10th I wrote that the Leafs are a long way from being good so this isn’t just a pessimistic view after a late season tailspin.

The other things that disheartened me are some of the reasons for optimism.  One was that the second line showed signs in the second half that they may be able to return to their ‘career year’ levels of 2010-11.  Well, that is all fine and dandy, but last time I checked the Leafs missed the playoffs that year as well so hoping some players can match their level of play during that season is not a sign for optimism, but a sign of desperately looking for something to hope for.  As for Kulemin, in his 4 NHL seasons he has had 31, 36, 57 and 28 points.  Now tell me which one is not like the other?  Is it realistic that Kulemin can be a perennial 25 goal, 55 point guy?  Could be, but the evidence to support that thus far in his career is pretty thin.

Brian Burke also had the guts to point to Carter Ashton’s play at the end of the season as a sign of hope.  Sorry, but Carter Ashton had zero goals, zero assists, zero points and was a -10 in his 15 games as a Leaf.  If that is a sign of hope then the Leafs situation is far worse than even I believe.  Maybe Ashton will end up being a good top six forward in the NHL, but you wouldn’t conclude that based solely on those 15 games.

The same goes for Matt Frattin.  Now I actually like Frattin and I think he might be a useful player, but Frattin isn’t going to turn this team around.  He is probably no better than a 3rd line player.  The Leafs problems are not going to be fixed by the development of Matt Frattin into a quality 3rd liner.

There are really only two really good things to happen to the Leafs this year.  The first is how well Kessel and Lupul played together offensively and the second is what Jake Gardiner managed to do as a rookie in the NHL.  Overall I am really disturbed that Burke seems to have the attitude that this team is a good team that unexpectedly fell apart down the stretch because to me they still need significant improvements in all facets of the game.

Over the next week or two I will be discussing the Leaf situation in more detail grading the players and looking at what the Leafs need to do to get things moving in the right direction.


Apr 102012

Here is my take on the major NHL awards from a statistical point of view.  To determine which players will get consideration an award I took a look at their 5v5 zone start adjusted HART+ and FenHART+ ratings.  These ratings are based on goal and fenwick stats respectively and take into consideration quality of teammates and quality of opposition.  To be considered, a player needs to rank highly in both.

Norris Trophy

The following table is the top 15 defensemen in my HART+ ranking system along with their FenHART+ rank.  Only defensemen with 1000 minutes are considered.

Defenseman HARO+ HARD+ HART+ FenHART+ Rank
P.K. Subban 1.243 1.238 1.241 40
Zdeno Chara 1.398 1.025 1.211 1
Kevin Shattenkirk 1.067 1.346 1.206 19
Dan Hamhuis 1.346 1.055 1.2 13
Josh Gorges 1.168 1.232 1.2 43
Barret Jackman 0.984 1.405 1.194 18
Johnny Boychuk 1.328 1.003 1.165 2
Shea Weber 1.136 1.173 1.155 21
Filip Kuba 1.352 0.952 1.152 54
Willie Mitchell 0.92 1.365 1.143 26
Ian White 1.271 0.979 1.125 8
Erik Karlsson 1.334 0.901 1.117 11
Michael Del Zotto 1.14 1.079 1.109 64
Lubomir Visnovsky 1.148 1.07 1.109 33
Roman Hamrlik 1.194 1.021 1.107 34

The following is the top 15 defensemen in FenHART+ along with their HART+ rank.

Defenseman FenHARO+ FenHARD+ FenHART+ HART+ Rank
Zdeno Chara 1.142 1.145 1.143 2
Johnny Boychuk 1.113 1.149 1.131 6
Nicklas Lidstrom 1.173 1.053 1.113 19
Alex Goligoski 1.111 1.086 1.098 35
Brent Seabrook 1.127 1.067 1.097 16
Paul Martin 1.161 1.025 1.093 55
Alex Pietrangelo 1.13 1.035 1.082 17
Ian White 1.053 1.093 1.073 12
Drew Doughty 1.095 1.041 1.068 54
Marc-Edouard Vlasic 1.062 1.063 1.063 31
Erik Karlsson 1.151 0.968 1.06 13
Niklas Hjalmarsson 0.947 1.171 1.059 23
Dan Hamhuis 1.026 1.089 1.058 4
Kevin Bieksa 1.074 1.04 1.057 26
Brent Burns 1.161 0.945 1.053 32

The defensemen that are on both lists and deserve consideration are Chara, Hamhuis, Karlsson, Boychuk and White.  Others worth considering are Lidstrom, Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo, Jackman, Weber and Hjalmarsson because they rank in the top 25 on both lists.  I am going to disqualify Boychuk and White from any further consideration because they play with Chara and Lidstrom respectively and I’ll give more credit to those two for their success.  Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo and Jackman all play for the Blues so it is difficult to decide who, if anyone, deserves further consideration.  Shattenkirk plays his regular shift with Jackman while Pietrangelo is paired with Colaiacovo.  Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk play a lot on the powerplay and all three play on the penalty kill but Jackman and Pietrangelo get more time than Shattenkirk.  Since Pietrangelo plays a more significant role on special teams I’ll take him as the Blues Norris trophy candidate.

So, that leaves us with Chara, Hamhuis, Karlsson, Lidstrom, Pietrangelo, Weber and Hjalmarsson.  I think if I had a vote I would rank them.

  1. Zdeno Chara
  2. Nik Lidstrom
  3. Dan Hamhuis
  4. Alex Pietrangelo
  5. Erik Karlsson
  6. Shea Weber
  7. Niklas Hjalmarsson

Hart Trophy (MVP)

I am going to take the stand that the Hart Trophy should go to a forward, but I do think Chara should get some consideration.  In any event, lets look at how the top 20 forwards stack up.

Forward HARO+ HARD+ HART+ FenHART+ Rank
Ray Whitney 1.447 1.258 1.353 30
Patrice Bergeron 1.347 1.257 1.302 2
Patrick Sharp 1.559 1.01 1.284 12
Chris Kelly 1.349 1.219 1.284 88
Johan Franzen 1.254 1.306 1.28 8
Tyler Seguin 1.598 0.932 1.265 3
Pavel Datsyuk 1.18 1.328 1.254 1
Todd Bertuzzi 1.24 1.259 1.25 41
Radim Vrbata 1.254 1.243 1.249 76
Teddy Purcell 1.507 0.94 1.224 83
Henrik Sedin 1.348 1.085 1.217 28
Chris Kunitz 1.457 0.96 1.209 5
Brad Marchand 1.366 1.049 1.207 7
Dustin Brown 1.186 1.227 1.206 27
Joe Thornton 1.213 1.19 1.201 15
Alex Burrows 1.198 1.201 1.199 46
Ryan Kesler 0.97 1.427 1.198 14
Scott Hartnell 1.381 0.996 1.189 38
Steven Stamkos 1.48 0.887 1.183 92
Evgeni Malkin 1.493 0.864 1.179 10
Forward FenHARO+ FenHARD+ FenHART+ HART+ Rank
Pavel Datsyuk 1.131 1.279 1.205 7
Patrice Bergeron 1.17 1.171 1.171 2
Tyler Seguin 1.146 1.174 1.16 6
Justin Williams 1.266 1.045 1.155 60
Chris Kunitz 1.226 1.052 1.139 12
Anze Kopitar 1.216 1.039 1.128 58
Brad Marchand 1.13 1.117 1.123 13
Johan Franzen 1.068 1.177 1.123 5
Kyle Wellwood 1.174 1.063 1.118 57
Evgeni Malkin 1.202 1.028 1.115 20
Henrik Zetterberg 1.13 1.099 1.114 39
Patrick Sharp 1.134 1.082 1.108 3
Alexei Ponikarovsky 1.057 1.156 1.106 138
Ryan Kesler 1.122 1.088 1.105 17
Joe Thornton 1.168 1.037 1.103 15
James Neal 1.185 1.018 1.101 38
Logan Couture 1.14 1.061 1.1 92
David Backes 1.134 1.055 1.095 69
Viktor Stalberg 1.185 1.001 1.093 95
Gabriel Landenskog 1.111 1.074 1.093 30

The players that appear on both lists are Bergeron, Sharp, Franzen, Seguin, Datsyuk, Kunitz, Marchand, Thornton, Kesler, and Malkin.  Of the three Bruins, I will select Bergeron as the representative MVP candidate, of the two Red Wings I’ll select Datsyuk and of the two Penguins I’ll select Malkin.  Here is how my vote would go for the remaining MVP candidates.

  1. Datsyuk
  2. Bergeron
  3. Thornton
  4. Kopitar
  5. Sharp
  6. Malkin
I am pretty sure that this is not how the vote will go.  Stamkos will certainly get a lot of consideration but my argument against him is I feel his lack of defensive responsibility and puck control ability should eliminate him from contention and he’ll already get recognized for his goal scoring ability with the Rocket Richard trophy.  The MVP should not just be awarded to the best goal scorer, or even best offensive player.  The MVP is about the most valuable, or best overall, player.  Some of the same arguments against Stamkos can also be made for Malkin.  Excellent offensive ability, but lacking defensively.  Datsyuk and Bergeron are far more well rounded players, as are Thornton, Kopitar and Sharp (who really had an excellent year and is a vastly underrated player).

Selke Trophy

For the Selke trophy I just considered a forwards HARD+ and FenHARD+ rankings.  Here are the top 15 for each.
Forward HARD+ FenHARD+ Rank Forward FenHARD+ HARD+ Rank
Ryan Kesler 1.427 21 Pavel Datsyuk 1.279 2
Pavel Datsyuk 1.328 1 David Clarkson 1.183 32
Johan Franzen 1.306 3 Johan Franzen 1.177 3
Artem Anisimov 1.29 17 Tyler Seguin 1.174 77
Brandon Sutter 1.284 132 Patrice Bergeron 1.171 10
Brandon Dubinsky 1.271 19 Dainius Zubrus 1.161 54
Samuel Pahlsson 1.266 32 Patrik Elias 1.157 81
Todd Bertuzzi 1.259 13 Alexei Ponikarovsky 1.156 67
Ray Whitney 1.258 93 Adam Henrique 1.139 93
Patrice Bergeron 1.257 5 Petr Sykora 1.127 51
Derek Stepan 1.249 59 Frans Nielson 1.125 39
Radim Vrbata 1.243 139 Daniel Sedin 1.122 38
Dustin Brown 1.227 55 Todd Bertuzzi 1.119 8
Chris Kelly 1.219 30 Brad Marchand 1.117 37
Alex Burrows 1.201 23 Zach Parise 1.105 63

Only Datsyuk, Franzen, Bertuzzi and Bergeron appear on both lists but Kesler, Anisimov, Dubinsky, and Burrows also do quite well in both.  Since this is a defensive forward award I decided it would be worth while looking at the top forwards in terms of 4v5 penalty kill ice time so here they are along with their 5v5 HARD+ and FenHARD+ ratings.

(As an aside, the FenHARD+ list is an example of one reason why I don’t like fenwick/corsi for individual player evaluation.  There are 7 Devils, 3 Red Wings, 3 Bruins listed in the top 15 which tells me that fenwick/corsi, at least defensive fenwick/corsi, is more of a team stat than an individual stat and based on the teams style of play as opposed to the players individual talent.)

Forward HARD+ FenHARD+
Sean Couturier 1.276 1.177
Boyd Gordon 1.239 0.872
Erik Condra 1.146 1.062
Matt Read 1.097 1.104
Daniel Winnick 0.98 0.984
Craig Adams 0.968 1.167
Lauri Korpikoski 0.93 0.796
Darroll Powe 0.921 0.93
Brooks Laich 0.893 0.966
Shawn Horcoff 0.886 0.946
Matt Cooke 0.841 1.093
Ryan Jones 0.83 0.929
Jay McLement 0.822 0.998
Tomas Plekanec 0.797 0.928
Maxime Talbot 0.793 1.045

There are only three players who have a HARD+ and a FenHARD+ rating above 1.00 and interestingly those are all rookies:  Couturier, Condra and Read.  It’s pretty rare that young forwards are excellent defensive forwards who get relied on for big time minutes on the power play but the Flyers had 2 such players and the Flyers finished middle of the pack in PK success rate (81.8%) despite questionable goaltending for about 3/4 of the season.  Remarkable really.  So, taking those three players into consideration along with the players from the above 5v5 lists my Selke vote might go something like this.

  1. Pavel Datsyuk
  2. Patrice Bergeron
  3. Sean Couturier
  4. Ryan Kesler
  5. Artem Anisimov
  6. Erik Condra

Vezina Trophy

The following is a list of the top 28 goalies in terms of 5v5 face off adjusted ice time along with their save percentage and HARD+ ratings and rankings.

Goalie Save% HARD+ Sv% Rank HARD+ Rank AvgRank
HALAK, JAROSLAV 93.44 1.198 1 1 1
QUICK, JONATHAN 93.02 1.191 3 2 2.5
SMITH, MIKE 93.33 1.072 2 5 3.5
LUNDQVIST, HENRIK 92.12 1.101 5 4 4.5
BACKSTROM, NIKLAS 92.51 1.049 4 6 5
HOWARD, JIMMY 91.73 1.113 12 3 7.5
KIPRUSOFF, MIIKKA 91.97 1.048 8 7 7.5
THEODORE, JOSE 92.05 1.041 7 9 8
LEHTONEN, KARI 91.8 1.048 11 8 9.5
MILLER, RYAN 92.07 0.978 6 15 10.5
NIEMI, ANTTI 91.82 0.993 10 13 11.5
VOKOUN, TOMAS 91.72 0.996 13 12 12.5
LUONGO, ROBERTO 91.55 1.004 16 11 13.5
RINNE, PEKKA 91.94 0.948 9 19 14
BRYZGALOV, ILYA 91.13 1.01 21 10 15.5
PRICE, CAREY 91.6 0.944 15 20 17.5
THOMAS, TIM 91.03 0.98 22 14 18
DUBNYK, DEVAN 91.43 0.949 18 18 18
VARLAMOV, SEMYON 91.14 0.952 20 17 18.5
PAVELEC, ONDREJ 91.69 0.931 14 23 18.5
FLEURY, MARC-ANDRE 90.73 0.96 24 16 20
ANDERSON, CRAIG 91.44 0.916 17 24 20.5
GARON, MATHIEU 90.43 0.936 25 21 23
WARD, CAM 91.23 0.86 19 27 23
HILLER, JONAS 90.9 0.914 23 25 24
CRAWFORD, COREY 90.17 0.934 27 22 24.5
BRODEUR, MARTIN 89.64 0.897 28 26 27
MASON, STEVE 90.41 0.793 26 28 27

Based on the above list Halak should be the Vezina trophy winner but Halak has only played 46 games while most of the other goalies near the top have played 65+.  Depending on how you want to factor in games played I think you could award Halak the Vezina or maybe not even consider him at all.  If I had a vote, this is how my vote would go:

  1. Jonathan Quick
  2. Mike Smith
  3. Henrik Lundqvist
  4. Jaroslav Halak
  5. Miikka Kiprusoff
  6. Jimmy Howard
  7. Jose Theodore